Baggies beaten in latest play-off test
ALBION Under-18s fell to a narrow 3-2 defeat at Middlesbrough amid windy north-east conditions in their latest Barclays Under-18 Premier League play-off encounter on Saturday.
The Baggies were facing their third fixture in the elite play-off round having fallen to a narrow reverse against Manchester United and clinched a superb victory away at Manchester City.
But impressive Boro, who ran away with the North Group table during the regular season, proved too strong amid high winds on Teesside.
Albion defended resolutely during a goalless first half and duly took the lead after the break through a well-worked move, Ben Miller’s ball finding Andre Wright who beat his man and squared for Tahvon Campbell to convert.
However, some lapses in concentration at the back saw the hosts establish a 3-1 advantage courtesy of three quick strikes.
The Baggies pulled one back in the closing stages after Wright picked himself up to convert from the penalty spot, but it was not to be as the visitors tasted defeat.
Under-18s boss Aaron Danks said: “It was a frustrating day but, again, it was a good experience to be involved in and was a good test for our players.
“Having to manage the conditions as well was part of the learning for our boys.
“The standard of these play-off games, especially the first two, have been a level above anything we have experienced this season. They’ve been very competitive and very tight, as the three scorelines all show.
“Saturday was a little bit spoilt by the windy conditions and it would be harsh to really judge players on either side.
“We asked our players to be competitive and put in good performances. Obviously they’re in the results business so to be on the wrong end of two is a little bit disappointing, but it’s definitely part of their education, learning and improvement.
“We’ll look to kick on after the Easter break when we play Villa at home.”
Albion U18s v M’boro: Hall, Ezewele, Fitzwater, McCourt, Miller, Field, Sweeney, Ward, Campbell, Wright, Edwards (Smith 80’).